If you are not clear about the best time to buy a graphics card, we can only tell you one thing: right now it is not.
Buying consoles is easy. When a new one comes out, it is more powerful than the old one and it has more features. Playstation 4 is better than Playstation 3, Xbox One is better than Xbox 360. If we forget about gaming for a moment and focus on hardware, there isn’t much to discuss.
In the PC market, things are a little more complicated. There are cards of all prices, with different capacities for all budgets and needs. And that a card is the newest does not imply that it is the best. I know, it is somewhat contradictory.
2016 is the best time to buy a graphics card
Also, the PC market is typically not as marked by generations as consoles, there isn’t a huge leap overnight in graphics, but it is usually a more organic upgrade. In very few occasions we can speak of a generational leap in the PC market. Except now.
The stars have aligned so that 2016 could become the most important year of the decade in terms of graphics card launches. While 2015 could only boast a couple of major releases (AMD’s, the R9 Fury and R9 Fury Nano), in 2016 all manufacturers are preparing something important.
Nvidia gets her hair loose with Pascal
Let’s start with the company that spent 2015 a little off, Nvidia. In the coming months we will understand why Nvidia was so quiet, and this week has already advanced its intentions, with the presentation of the Nvidia Tesla 100.
The Tesla range is not geared towards personal computers, but marks the premiere of Pascal architecture, which replaces Maxwell, which paid off so well in the past two years with the GeForce GTX 960, 970 and 980 (not to mention monsters like Titan).
Pascal will greatly benefit from the new 16nm FinFET manufacturing process, although it is not yet clear in which GPU models we will see it.
One of the benefits of this manufacturing process is that it allows you to create chips that can be more powerful without increasing consumption or generating more heat. This is an address AMD has already taken with graphics like the R9 Fury Nano that only need a small heatsink and an 8-pin connector.
Nvidia may want to demonstrate that its graphics can also be cheap and cool when it wants, and perhaps that’s why the relaunch of the GTX 950 range that occurred this week means that these models no longer need a 6-pin connector like before. Although the GTX 950 is not a high-end graphics, and uses a Maxwell chip, we will probably see similar graphics in the future from Nvidia.
And of course, we will also see high-end graphics with Pascal. If we see how the Tesla 100 compares to its predecessors, the Tesla M40 and K40, we can conclude that Pascal allows an increase in frequencies and cores with the same cost, speaking both of energy cost and the price of the card.
AMD Aims At Upper-Mid Range First With Polaris
For its part, Radeons had a busier 2015, so it is unlikely that we will see new high-end graphics, at least in the coming months. By the beginning of next year, things could change, especially if Nvidia throws the rest with Pascal, but it is too early to say.
What is certain is thatRadeon will present mid and high range cards in the coming months thanks to Polaris, the new generation of AMD. In fact, they are expected very soon and in the middle of the year we could already have the first models in stores, facing the campaign back to school / work.
The upper-middle range is not the one that fills the headlines, but I know it is the most popular and the one that makes the most money for companies. Very few users buy cards like the Fury X or the Titan, most choose cheaper models like the GTX 960 or the R9 280. According to rumors, the new R9 490X and R9 490 will be available in June.
Again, not much is known about Polaris, only that it will also jump into the 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. Last January we already shared everything that is known about the platform so far, which initially will focus on Offer 60fps 1080p performance in all current video games.
That is, we may have to wait for the monster to replace the Fury X, but at least the first Polaris graphics will offer great performance for a contained price; In a demo, AMD managed to run Star Wars Battlefront at 1080p and 60fps, consuming 60% less than an Nvidia GTX 950.
Why are you interested in waiting even if you are not interested in new models
So 2016 will be the best time to change graphics;Although you do not want to spend a fortune on the new models, all this may interest you a lot.
And it is that for many users the best time to buy a new chart is when it drops in price because a new model arrives to replace it. That is to say, in the weeks in which the stores want to get rid of the stock is when we can get some very juicy discounts from the outgoing models.
And if you get a current high-end graphic, it will be worth it for years to come without problems, although the new ones have achieved all the prominence. Keep this in mind and prepare your portfolio, the next few months will be very busy for the players.